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Lake Co. H1N1 clinics overwhelmed; Cook making appointments
Daily Herald Staff Report

More than 1,000 people showed up to the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center to get their H1N1 vaccine Thursday morning. The Lake County Health Department administered the vaccines.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Nate Carlson, 6, waits with his father, Greg, for his H1N! vaccination today at St. Thomas of Villanova School in Palatine.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Mike Murphy holds 5-year-old Tyler so Joann Valeriano of the Cook County Department of Public Health can give the youngster a shot.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Marybeth Bank of Grayslake holds her 7 year old son Jack as Lake County Health Department RN Angela Waldron administers a nasal H1N1 Vaccine Thursday morning at the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

8 year old Jocelyn Rodriguez holds her grandmother's arm as Lake County Health Department RN Debora Knight administers an H1N1 vaccine Thursday morning at the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

More than 1,000 people showed up to the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center to get their H1N1 vaccine Thursday morning. The Lake County Health Department administered the vaccines.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

The Lake County Health Department administered H1N1 vaccines Thursday morning at the the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center. Over a thousand people showed up to get their vaccine.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Left to right, 10 year old Dylan Montaigne, 4 year old Hayden Domek, 9 year old Sophia Avila, and 4 year old Cynthia Avila, all of Round Lake, camp out outside the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center to get their H1N1 vaccine.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Marybeth Bank of Grayslake holds her 4 year old daughter Hannah as Lake County Health Department RN Angela Waldron administers an H1N1 Vaccine Thursday morning at the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

St. Thomas of Villanova student Nora Loftus, 5, with her mom, Sandy, isn't happy over the shot she gets from Mary Russell of the Respiratory Health Association of Chicago Thursday.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/29/2009 11:40 AM | Updated: 11/2/2009 12:10 PM

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Priority groups

Priority groups identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include pregnant women, caretakers and people in homes with children under 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical services employees, individuals 6 months to 24 years old and individuals 25 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes that make them a higher risk for complications.

A shortage of doses, a seemingly endless line and damp weather created anxiety and frustration for people waiting for H1N1 flu vaccines Thursday morning in Round Lake Beach.

"All the talking outside is complaining," Antioch resident Aimee Mabry said after she was one of more than 1,000 people to get the vaccine. "But it's worth it."

Some people arrived at the Round Lake Area Park District Sports Center for shots at 3 a.m. - five hours before the Lake County Health Department's temporary clinic opened. A four-hour wait before treatment was not uncommon.

It was a scene duplicated at other clinics in Gurnee, Mundelein, Waukegan and North Chicago on Thursday. All were set up by the health department, and all were equipped with far fewer vaccine doses than officials had ordered from the state.

The county requested 100,000 doses but received only 12,650 in a shipment Monday. That meant 1,300 doses were available for the day at each of the sites.

"If the total shipment would have arrived, we wouldn't have the long lines today," health department Executive Director Irene Pierce said.

Of the collar counties that have run H1N1 clinics this fall, the lines in Lake County seem to be the longest.

After a few hours of operation Thursday, green wristbands were given to people in line, ensuring they would be vaccinated. By 12:30 p.m., all the wristbands had been distributed and the lines at all five clinics were capped.

Some people at the backs of the lines may have been asked to leave when the wristbands ran out, health department spokeswoman Leslie Piotrowski said. Anyone who showed up afterward was turned away.

Laura and Bob Hansen of Grayslake got in line at 6:15 a.m. so their 1-year-old son, Benjamin, could be vaccinated. He got the shot about 10:20 a.m.

"He didn't even cry," Laura Hansen said proudly.

Round Lake Beach resident Alyson Hawkins and her three daughters were in the crowd, too. One of the girls, Tess, turned 11 Thursday.

It wasn't exactly a dream birthday activity for the Thompson Elementary School student.

"They owe me," Tess said of her parents.

Similar clinics have been held elsewhere in the Chicago area. Some have gone smoothly, while others have had hiccups.

For example:

•An H1N1 vaccination program in Palatine elementary schools for students seemed to go smoothly Thursday, although the doses arrived late. Public clinics in suburban Cook County have not been scheduled.

•In Kane County, people seeking H1N1 vaccines encountered long lines at three clinics Monday night. Some residents were turned away from those clinics, too, but only to ensure the events would end on time.

•For DuPage County clinics last week, appointments were required to prevent long lines from forming, officials said. However, they have heard complaints from some residents the process takes too long and more clinics and health care workers are needed.

Future programs also are in the works. On Saturday, the Arlington Heights Health Services Department will dole out 1,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine. Residents were required to register Thursday night.

And the DuPage County Health Department is accepting appointments for the mist vaccination through early December after receiving 6,000 more doses of spray. People can call (866) 311-1123 to make appointments.

The department is not accepting new appointments for the injectable vaccination because the current supply is booked, but new doses are expected soon, officials said.

At the Round Lake Beach clinic Thursday, grumbling seemed to lessen once people reached the treatment room, where eight nurses administered the vaccines.

Pierce defended her staff's operation and rejected comparisons to other counties' programs.

"Our phone calls from our community show there's a strong demand and a clear preference for immediate service," she said. "They want (the vaccine) now. Our decision was to meet our community's demands and to try to protect as many people as possible."

The Lake County clinics are set to run through Sunday in most locations and through Saturday in North Chicago, but officials predicted they'll be out of vaccines by Friday night or Saturday.

More clinics will be scheduled when the health department gets more vaccine. A registration system will be implemented for future clinics, Piotrowski said.

Pierce understood the frustration of the people who waited for the vaccine Thursday.

"We appreciate the public's patience," she said. "I want to remind everyone that this is a long term campaign that will continue for months until everyone who wants a shot has received one."

Cook County has received 50,000 more doses of H1N1 vaccine, and high-risk suburban residents can make appointments to get vaccinated, the county health department said Thursday.

Residents may call (708) 836-8600 or one of the district offices of the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Call (847) 818-2860 for the North District; (708) 786-4000 for West; (708) 974-6160 for Southwest and (708) 210-4500 for South.

Vaccinations will start Monday, Nov. 2.

The health department is not publicly disclosing where the vaccines will be given. People who call for an appointment will choose a location and time, said Amy Poore, spokeswoman for the department.

Any of the five offices can make appointments for any clinics, she said.

People making appointments will be screened over the phone to see if they fit into the high-priority categories, but no rigorous checking will be done.

"We have to rely a lot on people doing the right thing," Poore said.

Even though Cook County has gotten the additional doses, Poore said the number of doses are not being stressed because more vaccine supplies are expected and more sites will open.

Priority groups identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include pregnant women, caretakers and people in homes with children under 6 months, health care and emergency medical services workers, individuals 6 months to 24 years old and individuals 25 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes that make them a higher risk for complications.

This is Cook County's second batch of H1N1 vaccine. The first batch of 20,000 doses were administered to schoolchildren in Palatine and given to hospitals for health care workers.

The Palatine vaccinations began Thursday.

The school programs will continue, and a schedule will be posted soon, said Sean McDermott, another spokesman for the health department.

Vaccines will also be offered at licensed day care facilities, and pediatric and obstetric practices will receive supplies., he added.

"All residents who fall in the priority groups to receive H1N1 vaccine are strongly urged to do so," said Stephen A. Martin Jr., chief operating officer.

The health department's Web site is cookcountypublichealth.org, and the flu hotline is (708) 492-2828.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Jake Griffin contributed to this report.